Information is King - Knowledge is Power

Editor Ian Hunter reviews a new Third Platform white paper from Tollring that seeks to define the issues and then provide real world practical ideas and solutions for the channel.

We live at a time when changes are happening all around us. Look at any period over the last 30 years and the timeline will reveal some fundamental technological change or innovation that has altered both the way we live and the way we work today.

The Third Platform is a powerful concept and argument for today and the coming years developed by global industry analyst firm IDC.

Essentially they see three key changes within the IT and communications landscape that have occurred in these modern times.

Firstly the use of mainframe computing which was followed by the entrance of the PC and resultant LAN, Internet and client server architecture of the 1980’s and 90’s.

The third change, and platform, being the omnipresent IP based networking and connectivity that has given us anytime, anyplace access and multiple device experiences.

I have in my working life experienced all three platforms. When I started work in the Ministry of Technology at the National Physical Laboratory it took me three days to get a mainframe computer to generate a simple table of stress measurements. If I made just a one character input error you started over on another three-day cycle.

Whilst working for BT I became a very early adopter of personal computing and had a company provided PC at home. Of course it was an information island – there was no connectivity and if I could have blagged a modem as well the data transfer rate at the time was miserable.

My first experience of Voice over IP took place in Brighton at a late 1990’s TMA show – the world was changing and I liked what it had to offer.

It would be easy to say that the ‘rest is history’ but in reality the story is still developing

The four pillars of the Third Platform are Cloud, Big Data, Analytics and Social Media. These are said by IDC and others to be consuming more than 50 per cent of IT spends right now and forecast to continue to do so for the next five years – or about as far as we dare look in to the technological future.

Around ten years ago I began my personal transition to this Third Platform.

I decided to use the Internet for what it was good at - providing an awful lot of connected computing power wherever I was based and on whatever device I wanted to use. I decided that all the information and data I held as being precious and valuable to me would be backed up. Not just by an existing external hard drive, but also by a service provider in ‘The Cloud’.

Around me the nascent hosted telephony market was making inroads in to the CPE based telephony market and progressively many other ITC applications were making their way to the cloud. So I purchased Office 365 for home use, saved a fortune and always have a current copy of the latest software with Dropbox access to all my data on five devices – all for the price of a packet of cigarettes and a pint of beer a month.

I just love this Third Platform.

Big Data and Analytics fascinate me as numbers and their interpretation offer up so many opportunities for business. Of course many believe that big data is just for big companies and in a way they are right but if you look at how smaller firms can use Business Intelligence (BI) then you can see the relationship.

When it comes to the SME I tend to equate Big Data with BI which is why I was fascinated to see how Tollring were positioning their iCall Suite within the technology themes that the Third Platform addresses.

I have always thought that call management was an undervalued product in that, sure it provided a record of calls made, but it offered so much more as well. It offered an insight in to how a company was performing and interpretations of the data it recorded and measured offered the business guidance and suggestions as to how to serve their customer more efficiently. That’s to say how to increase productivity and profitability.

As Enterprises large and small are finding that their business data is an increasingly vital ingredient in the overall business mix iCall Suite extends that capability and whilst information is king, Tollring demonstrates that knowledge is power.

Having data on company performance is all well and good but how this data is analysed and interpreted is more important.

That is why, in this Third Platform era of IT and communications, enterprises need tools, such as the Tollring iCall Suite, to both capture data and to provide flexible application features and reports that can be tailored to each business need to analyse this data for the betterment of their business.

You can download the Tollring white paper, ‘The 3rd Platform and Implications for the Channel’ at their web site www.tollring.com/white-papers.html from September.